Surry broadband initiative complete

Published 4:58 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Surry County has now achieved universal broadband access.

Anyone in the county who wants access to high-speed internet can now obtain a fiber optic connection to his or her home through Ruralband, a subsidiary of Prince George Electric Cooperative.

Casey Logan, the co-op’s president and chief executive officer, confirmed on Dec. 1 that Surry now has 100% fiber-to-the-home broadband coverage, completing its partnership with Dominion Energy.

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As the “middle mile” provider, Dominion has been updating its power grid in Surry throughout the year, and allowing Ruralband to lease the new infrastructure and use it to provide fiber-to-the-home connections.

In August, when Ruralband had extended fiber optic infrastructure to roughly 66% of the county, Logan had spoken of a “race” among rural counties to become the first in Virginia to achieve the 100% fiber-to-the-home milestone. A similar initiative in Bath County on Virginia’s western border was also underway at the time.

According to Yoti Jabri, the county’s director of economic development, Surry didn’t win the race to be first in the state.

But, “we were not told who was,” Jabri said.

The Bath-Highland Network Authority and MGW received a $7.8 million award from Virginia’s Department of Housing and Community Development in December to build fiber broadband in 2,470 unserved locations in Bath and Highland counties, which would seem to indicate Bath isn’t the first in the state either. The DHCD administers the Virginia Telecommunication Initiative — the same source of grants that had funded Surry’s broadband initiative.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced in October that Virginia is on track to achieve statewide universal broadband access by 2024.